As those who have glided along the waters of Lake Como know, the gorgeous villas and gardens that front the lake are as much a part of the area’s legendary beauty as its natural scenery. And for centuries, the 18th-century neoclassical Villa Sola Cabiati—once the summer home of Milan’s Duke Gabrio Serbelloni, and now owned by the noble Sola Cabiati family—has ranked high among the list of the area’s most breathtaking properties. It has also cultivated an air of mystery, with its frescoed walls, lush gardens, and museum-quality furnishings (including a bed slept in by Napoleon and Joséphine) remaining largely inaccessible to the public for decades.
Now, the five-star Grand Hotel Tremezzo has taken over exclusive management of the villa, sharing it with a select few lucky guests. The historic villa makes a natural pair with the hotel, which has been a family-owned fixture on Lake Como’s shores since 1910. According to Tremezzo’s CEO and owner, Valentina De Santis, the villa remains as exclusive as ever—it’s not even bookable on the hotel’s website. “It’s about providing something exclusive to our guests, in a style that’s very different from the hotel—and creating truly tailor-made experiences there,” she says.
To that end, Tremezzo’s guests can enjoy Villa Sola Cabiati in three ways. History and art buffs (and curious lookie-loos) can schedule guided tours of the villa’s two museum floors, both of which were previously closed to the general public. The hotel’s tour opens the door to such resident treasures as priceless tapestries, Renaissance-era majolica pottery, and a rare collection of Stradivarius violins painted black for Marie Antoinette’s funeral in 1793.
Guests in search of more immersive experiences can also book an array of activities throughout the 10-acre baroque estate, from yoga by the swimming pool to romantic dinners in the Tuscan garden. For the ultimate visit, however, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo offers guests the opportunity to stay the night, with parties of up to 12 making use of the villa’s historic furnishings and artwork, augmented by the hotel’s creature comforts and staff. Priced from about $10,000 per night, the villa can only be rented in its entirety, ensuring the kind of privacy Lake Como’s royal residents and noble visitors have enjoyed for centuries. (grandhoteltremezzo.com)